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Road safety charity calls for ban on hands-free kits

23rd April 2014
Posted by Aston Avery

David Webster spoke to Gary Rae from the charity on tonight’s Drivetime.

Just over ten years after hand-held mobiles were banned at the wheel, Brake is renewing its call to ban hands-free kits, as a Brake and Direct Line survey reveals that almost half of drivers surveyed admit to chatting when driving. While the use of hand-held phones by drivers has dropped, hands-free use has risen perhaps in the mistaken belief that it is a safe alternative.

Brake and Direct Line’s survey reveals:

  • Almost half of drivers admit to talking on a phone at the wheel: down from a little over half in 2006
  • Hand-held use has dropped to under one in ten from nearly 4 in 10  in 2006
  • Hands-free use has risen to nearly four in 10, from two in 10 in 2006

For the past ten years, Brake believes that the lack of a total ban has left many drivers unaware that using a hands-free mobile at the wheel is just as risky as using a hand-held. According to the survey, three in ten  don’t know that using any type of phone while driving is dangerous.

In reality, it is the distraction of the conversation that causes the danger. Studies have shown the risk of being in a crash that causes injury is increased four times for drivers on the phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, with reactions far slower than driving at the UK drink drive limit, and taking half as long again under normal conditions.

More disturbing facts:

Brake and Direct Line’s survey also found that texting at the wheel is a widespread menace, with three in 10 of all drivers admitting sending or reading messages while driving, and an even higher proportion of young drivers (age 18-24) – more than four in 10 – doing so.

Smartphone apps are an additional threat, with over one in 10 drivers using them at the wheel, another disturbing rise from 2006.

Brake calls for a total ban on mobile phone use at the wheel, to prevent hundreds of senseless crashes, deaths and injuries every year, and the prioritisation of traffic policing by government to help enforce it.

Brake’s advice to drivers is simple: remove the temptation by turning phones to silent and putting them in the boot, out of sight and reach.